Once long ago Vincent could swear he'd seen them looking dead, great hooks in their backs, red mist outlining their breath.
But that had been a trick of the light, right?
For a moment the platform lurched, a single calliope note sounding.
He managed to keep his balance, his heart suddenly beating too fast again.
He coughed. straightened his glasses. "coincidence," he muttered, "faulty old thing..." he started towards the exit ramp, the false front in the wall.
He had actually had the back door built as a sort of 'just in case'; until this church had been built the Order had met, like the catacomb Christians before them, in secrecy. Hiding like churchmice...little basement get togethers with little makeshift altars. It had annoyed Vincent, really. Wasn't the Order supposed to be the real power in this town? Then why weren't they acting it? No reason to hide from the world they commanded...still. Just in case. Long long ago in the town's history the Puritan Christians had burnt some of the Order's 'saints' as witches. which is how they became saints in the first place, Vincent thought as he traversed broken beams as he made his way down the tunnel, ironic one has to die before people think you are 'special'.Anyway. Just in case someone in the town suddenly decided the Order was evil, he knew he, anyway, knew where and how to beat a hasty retreat.
He looked at the writings on the tunnel walls. Old grafitti. NOT his. Claudia's obsessive last minute madness, no doubt. Scribblings Heather'd probably not even bothered to read. He stopped to read one himself. "'The beauty of the withering flower and the last struggles of the dying man, they are my blessings,'" he read aloud,"'God took endless time away from the people so that they can die'.How lovely." and what a double edged blessing that had been...
Entering the actual church, Vincent suddenly felt that little frisson of fear again. Had somebody been here recently? The altar had been set up again, and the candles, tho burned down to mere puddles of wax, still looked newish.There was a faint smell in the air- incense? perfume? and Vincent began to tread quieter, more cautiously. Suddenly he wasn't sure visiting here was such a good idea....
Truth? Trick of the light? He thought he saw a silohuette against one of the stained glass panels. A woman's profile, head bowed in reverence....
Vincent's courage left him all at once, and he almost tripped over a broken beam in his haste to get out of there.
Anyone truly in that church would hear his hurried footfalls as he ran away back down the tunnel...
...and ran all the way back to the park's entrance. "Heatherrrr!" now that he was back in the outside air he dared to breathe, dared to cry out. "Heather, are you there, it's me, Vincent. I've suddenly remembered I have some urgent business in another part of town..." but of course, she'd have driven on. He was on his own.
Shaking. He looked at his hand to notice how badly he'd rattled himself. There was nothing here, was there? Nothing but the ever present fog.
He took a flannel from his pocket and wiped the fear-sweat from his brow."I need a drink." he said aloud, and pondered the long walk to Heaven's Night.
((and if anyone IS there, now'd be the time to make him scream like a girly...))